On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 1:38 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> A possible answer is that all
>> possible universes exist and we find ourselves in one of those that
>> has the kind of physical laws leading to observers.
> I'm familiar with the Anthropic principle, but what program does it run on
> and where did the language that that program was written in come from?

The universe is algorithmic insofar as a small number of physical rules gives 
rise to everything that we see around us. There is of course the idea that the 
universe is actually a simulation but that is more controversial.

>> If a collection of spring-loaded dominoes becomes so complex that you
>> can't understand it or predict what it's going to do next, you will
>> have to be careful what you say to it.
> No, you won't. The limitations of our own intellectual capacity to keep
> track of complex quantities is no excuse to turn water into wine. Complexity
> in itself is meaningless without something to make sense of that complexity,
> to sum it up, in some qualitative presentation which is completely
> orthogonal to quantity.

A particular type of complexity is able to make sense of itself. That is the 
defining feature of a mind. 

>>>> Which is why it appears that consciousness is epiphenomenal; if it
>>>> were not then we would be zombies.
>>> You don't need zombies when you have puppets. Zombies gives an inanimate
>>> object way too much credit.
>> I'm not sure why you prefer "puppet" to "zombie" but if they mean the
>> same thing, OK.
> The difference is that a zombie is charged with an expectation of life which
> is absent. We have no such expectation of life in a puppet, so we correctly
> identify it as a fictional presentation in our minds of a natural object
> rather than a supernatural being who lacks personal presence.

A philosophical zombie is not charged with an expectation of anything mental, 
that is one of its defining characteristics.

>>>> By epiphenomenal I mean a necessary side-effect of the type of
>>>> intelligent behaviour putatively conscious organisms display.
>>> It's a contradiction to expect that a universe can be based entirely in
>>> necessity and then to imagine that there could be some kind of side
>>> effect
>>> which is in some way pseudo-experiential. It is sawing off the branch
>>> you
>>> are sitting on. Your argument is an epiphenomenon - a necessary side
>>> effect...of what?
>> When you place three spheres together so that they are touching you
>> create a triangle.
> Not if you can only see the two closest spheres. Not if the spheres are
> black in a dark room. Not if the spheres are made of smoke. Etc. Formation
> is not an independent property. It is contingent upon interpretative senses.
> If I place three spheres together, what do they sound like? Limiting our
> consideration of the universe to geometric forms and algebraic functions is
> useful precisely because it is the most meaningless way to approach the
> universe. It is the absolute most aloof and detached perspective from which
> we can imagine ourselves a dimensionless voyeur. It's a conceit which is
> incredibly useful but ultimately the very worst possible approach to
> understanding subjectivity, and one of the worst approaches to understanding
> the cosmos as a whole (even though it is one of the best in a different
> sense, as the meaningless truths are by definition the most universal, since
> meaning is about private experiences of significance.)
>> The triangle is a necessary side-effect of putting
>> the spheres together in that way.
> Only if you are a thing who can see triangles and the spheres are made of
> the kind of thing which we can see in a consistent and unambiguously clear
> way.

The point is that the supervenient triangular property, whatever by whomever 
and under whatever circumstances it may be so called, cannot be separated from 
the three spheres touching. It may or may not be the case for brain and mind 
but I give this as an example to at least make it clear what I mean.

>> When you create a system that perceives, responds, perceives its own
>> response, adjusts its response, etc. you have a system that is
>> conscious.
> This is begging the question. The only way that we know how to do this is to
> reproduce biologically. Otherwise you are saying that if I have a cartoon of
> Bugs Bunny which children see as a system where Bugs Bunny perceives,
> responds, perceives his own response, adjusts its response, etc, then Bugs
> Bunny is conscious.

It's "begging the question" if I make the assumption in the premises of an 
argument that purports to prove it. But I propose it as a theory: if Bugs Bunny 
does do this in an interactive way, such as a real rabbit would, then Bugs 
Bunny is indeed as conscious as a real rabbit.

>> The consciousness is a necessary side-effect of such a
>> system.
> Why should it be? How could it happen? Just a disembodied metaphysical magic
> that appears whenever a system which we have designed to seem to act in a
> way that reminds us of ourselves? 

What we observe is that when certain physical processes happen, consciousness 
happens. This is a minimal theory. It's like observing the inverse square law 
for gravitational attraction. As a minimal theory, it is enough until new facts 
come along requiring further explanation.

>> Now, you don't like this idea but what's wrong with it apart from
>> that? It's a minimal explanation and it's consistent with all the
>> facts.
> I like the idea fine, it's just that I understand why it doesn't work. I see
> the gaping hole in it, because it is the same hole that I came though
> myself.

So what fact is explained by your theory that is not equally well explained by 
the theory that consciousness supervenes on intelligence?

Stathis Papaioannou

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